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Fish Care GuideHow Long Can A Fish Live Out Of Water? - Fun Fact...

How Long Can A Fish Live Out Of Water? – Fun Fact You Might Not Know

Life is more and more modern, so people tend to learn about the things around them. There are questions about how long a fish can live outside water. Although this is just a simple question, not everyone can answer it.

The lifespan of fish in water varies depending on the type of fish. Currently, fish have a variety of colors, styles as well as life cycles. 

However, its life cycle in water is more or less influenced by the climate and state of the surrounding environment. Therefore, let’s learn about these interesting facts with GA Pet Sitters from the following article.

How do fish exchange oxygen in the water?

How do fish breathe underwater
How do fish breathe underwater

Knowledge and practical research show that fish can breathe underwater thanks to special organs called gills. This respiratory mechanism has a whole process as follows.

When they want to breathe, they will absorb water through the mouth and push through the gills. 

As water passes through the gills, the dissolved oxygen in the water passes through the thin walls of the gills. 

Finally, the waste carbon dioxide present in the blood will enter the water to help the fish breathe underwater.

In this way, fish gills act as the lungs of other lung-breathing animals. It helps the fish’s breathing process become easier. 

If the water the fish is living in is contaminated, they will move to another cleaner water source to absorb the air. Some fish try to come to the surface to get oxygen in the air.

The gill is an organ filled with blood vessels. The walls of the gills and blood vessels are very thin. This part is located right at the head of the fish.

It can be large or small, depending on the structure of the fish.

Besides, fishes with a sense of smell will not use their gills for breathing underwater. 

In contrast, this fish has two small nasal cavities located on the head, which act as respiratory organs. This is one of the few fishes that can breathe underwater with gills.

Can fish live outside of water?

As mentioned above, fishes maintain life by exchanging gases underwater through gills. The breathing process of fish underwater is extremely important.

But if you take the fish outside the water, the gills cannot absorb oxygen from the water as usual. This means they cannot breathe and will die.

Some fish can die in seconds or minutes, such as aquarium fish. Meanwhile, some cubs can live outside the country for hours or even days. 

The acclimatization time they live outside the water depends on the species and their characteristics.

However, some fish species are an exception. These species can live on land for a few days or even months without dying. 

Because right in its structure, it can breathe air or absorb oxygen through the skin. Therefore, the ability to sustain life outside water is quite possible. 

Usually, they are large amphibians to store air to stay outside the water longer.

Why do fish often jump out of the water?

Fish jumping on the water
Fish jumping on the water

Some people wonder about the phenomenon of Fish leaving the Water. This is understandable since they are mostly aquatic and can be threatened by predators. Leaving the water will help keep it away from those predators.

Another cause is to keep it away from contaminated water sources or existing habitats with low oxygen levels. 

Sometimes it’s also to stay away from the water starting to heat up as the environment gets more and more extreme.

Most noticeable when they leave the water searching for a mate, food and current biomes are changing or depleting.

When being outside of water, what factors affect the survival of fish?

In the process of life and development, different fish species will have different times in the water. Let’s find out the factors that affect the duration of fish survival outside water as follows.


As shared, some fish species will die within seconds of living in the water, but some species can live for months, years without any problem. 

This is a factor that depends on the breed and type of fish. Each type will have body mechanisms that they can adapt to and withstand the harshness of the environment.

Metabolic Rates

Besides the species factor, Metabolic Rates are also considered to affect the duration of fish survival out of water. Fish species live and metabolize thanks to the surrounding environment with temperature, food, etc.

At the same time, the metabolic rate of fish depends on their body temperature. As we all know, fishes can live on land for a longer time as they are fish species that grow in cold temperatures as well as have slower metabolisms.

Oxygen Demand

Oxygen Demand for fish
Oxygen Demand for fish

Oxygen is an indispensable element for fish to live. Fish species that live in cold temperatures have a slower metabolic rate. 

So they will have a lower oxygen demand. Therefore, when out in the water, they live for longer periods.

How and for how long can fish live out of water?

The time spent living outside the water of different species to answer how long a fish can live outside the water. Please refer to the information below.

Mangrove Killifish

The Mangrove Killifish is a fish species in the family Rivulus that lives along the east coast of North, Central, and South America, from Florida to Brazil. 

Because they are freshwater fish and amphibians, they can live up to 2 months outside of water. During this time, the class breathes oxygen through its skin and reproduces by the way it will self-fertilize to develop.


Mudskippers are also amphibian and large. Its shape looks quite unusual, but that’s why it adapts to life on land quite well. They can use pectoral fins to move on land, mud, and some also climb trees. 

According to recent studies, they deliver oxygen through the skin. Their skin consists of the vessels of blood that help them adapt to life without water.

Walking Catfish

Known as a fish from Southeast Asia, the Walking Catfish stand out with their long beards. Their bodies can reach 20 inches long.

The structure of the cat’s skin is the condition for it to adapt to many different habitats. Accordingly, it maintains life 15 to 18 hours when not living in the water.

Rockskipper Fish

Rockskipper Fish
Rockskipper Fish

If you are someone who learns about fish, you will know about Rockskipper Fish. Usually, you’ll find it in shallow pools of water hidden among rocks or rubble.

With its small size, moving by jumping should often see it or jump with many different lakes. This is a way for this fish to find new habitats and mates. This fish lives on land for many hours without any problems.

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Snakehead Fish

Snakehead Fish is in some Asia as well as Africa. Because fish is into many dishes, some people keep this species. 

They claim that snakehead fish are able to survive on land in six days at least. Others stay for many months searching for new habitats.

Snakehead Fish is an amphibian, so it is very adaptable. However, be careful when catching or handling it as it can fly away and jump.


Lungfish are quite popular in the regions of West Africa and South America. They are in freshwater areas but mostly in lakes or rivers. 

As the name suggests, this fish uses both lungs to breathe when living in an environment without water.

Until now, the fish that still retains the mechanism of breathing air by land that combines both lungs as well as gills. 

You will be surprised to see its adaptation in different environments. They also tend to live in dry places. When living this way, the fish can live up 4 years.


Eels have an elongated shape and is capable of all difficulties when it swims against the current. With this ability, its skin structure is also the part that helps them breathe easily. 

You can easily find eels in shallow, muddy waters. Therefore, even if you put it in a bucket with a little water, it will still live for many days.

Climbing Perch

The perch is a fish species in the perch family that live in freshwater and brackish water environments. Countries in the Asian region, such as India and China, are the most abundant. 

Their maximum size can be up to 250 mm, and the sharp fins are the distinguishing features of this fish.

They have fatty, fragrant, chewy, delicious meat with high commercial value, so many farmers are now. 

However, if you want to raise it, be careful because it will jump and quickly find prey. 

It resembles the lungs in its ability to adapt and recover in harsh environments. So they can live with land from 7 to 10 hours and move from place to place by contorting their bodies.

Large-Ocean Fish

Large Ocean Fish
Large Ocean Fish

Referring to Large Ocean Fish, people will think of elephants, dolphins, sperm whales. Similar to other fish, these animals also have to breathe to maintain life.

However, they take in oxygen with their lungs as well as air sacs by coming out of the water because they are marine mammals.

This is the type of fish that can keep the air in the lungs. And the air sacs on the water surface are different. 

Some fishes can also live for many hours continuously or months to constantly receive surface air above the water.


With the sharing of the above article, we hope you have gained useful information about how long a fish can live outside water. If you’d like to know about the issue, you can find out more information via contact with us as soon as possible. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which fish has the longest span of survival outside water?

According to the article, it is certain that Lungfish can live the longest in an environment without water. Its lifespan is about 4 years.

2. Which fish can survive outside water for several hours?

Rockskipper Fish can survive outside water for several hours. Its structure always moves by jumping from one rock tank to another to find a mate or change its habitat.

3. Do fish suffer when they are dying?

Of course, before dying, fish will have their signs. This shows in their wiggle and squirm. This sign is the severe lack of oxygen causing the fish to die.

4. What pet fish lives the longest?

The pet fish always receives the attention of many aquarium fish lovers. Catfish and Angelfish are the oldest living fish today.

5. Which fish can live over 100 years?

According to a previous study, the Coelacanth fish, also known as the strange giant fish from the time of the dinosaurs, can live for 100 years.

6. What is the lifespan of a fish?

Each different type has a different lifespan. Lifespan depends on environmental conditions, temperature, and adaptability. So, there is no timeline for this life cycle of fish, but time ranges from a few hours to more than 60 years.

There are several examples of the lifespan of a fish: the average lifespan of small tropical fish is 4 to 6 years, ornamental fish have a lifespan of 10 to 25 years, and so on.

7. Where do fish go when the water dries up?

When the water dries up, they will find ways to jump to other habitats searching for food and mates. Fishes that can adapt to many environments completely live in shallow water without looking for another domain.

8. Do fish see water?

According to researchers, fish can’t see water. Its brain has structures that cannot see water or air.


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